One gentle-hearted old-timer and two youthful Bradley County newcomers earned prestigious awards Wednesday night during the MainStreet Cleveland Christmas Party hosted for the 29th year by Bank of …
One gentle-hearted old-timer and two youthful Bradley County newcomers earned prestigious awards Wednesday night during the MainStreet Cleveland Christmas Party hosted for the 29th year by Bank of Cleveland.
David and Brittany Durkin, owners of the Terra Running Company — a retail store and event management business — who purchased the historic Fillauer building in 2017, were named recipients of the annual MainStreet Cleveland Award.
Founders of the popular Cleveland Half Marathon & 5K, the downtown retailers — who are now located in the renovated Fillauer structure at 90 North Ocoee St. — are also civic servants. David serves as a member of the MainStreet Cleveland board of directors and Brittany dedicates time and energy as a member of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
The young pair might have stolen part of the show, but they didn’t dominate the evening. They shared the night’s spotlight with a familiar face. Mayor Emeritus Tom Rowland, whose 28-year tenure in City Hall made him the longest-running mayor in Cleveland history, was the recipient of the Robert Taylor Award, named in honor of the late George R. “Bobby” Taylor, a successful banker and downtown activist.
It was presented by Cleveland businessman and philanthropist Allan Jones, who was the inaugural recipient of the honor in 2016.
“This honor means a lot to me, because it’s named for a great community leader, Bobby Taylor,” Rowland told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “Bobby was my friend, mentor and confidant. His footprint has touched all of Cleveland, especially downtown. Bobby loved his hometown and supported it in every possible way.”
In accepting the award, Rowland praised the downtown revitalization initiative and gave his support to those who continue to lead its charge.
“There is a great momentum now in our downtown revitalization,” Rowland told members of the large crowd, many of whom wore the familiar plaid Christmas blazers — manufactured by Hardwick Clothes — that were made famous by the late Bobby Taylor. After the popular banker’s death, the blazers were named “Bobby Coats.”
Speaking of the downtown shapeshift, Rowland stressed, “I encourage each of you here tonight to keep that momentum going. The city is fortunate to have a great partnership with Lee University as it makes major investments and moves its beautiful campus closer into the center of the Historic Downtown District.”
The mayor emeritus added, “It’s part of the reason I predict downtown will become vital again, as more and more people visit downtown and learn about its history and visit the businesses that locate here. Thank you, MainStreet, and thank you Allan, for making the presentation in memory of our mutual friend, Bobby Taylor.”
Rather than a plaque, MainStreet Cleveland presented Rowland with a large framed photo of the former mayor pictured with Taylor and Jones. All wore the vibrant Christmas blazers at a MainStreet Cleveland Christmas Party the year before Taylor’s death.
Taylor, who was a co-founder of Bank of Cleveland with his son Scott, was also a charter member of MainStreet Cleveland.
The plaid Christmas blazers are as popular as ever, as Taylor’s son, Scott, as well as his grandsons, Clint and Clark, own their own. An array of Cleveland businessmen and downtown enthusiasts also sport the blazer during the Christmas season.
“That Christmas Party had the biggest array of ‘Bobby Coats’ I have ever seen in one room,” said Rowland’s wife, Sandra, the former first lady of Cleveland.
Speaking a day after the festive event, she offered of her husband, “Tom was genuinely surprised at receiving this award. He was totally unaware of it until it was announced.”
As one of Taylor’s closest friends, Rowland delivered the eulogy at the Cleveland native’s funeral.
Sharon Marr, longtime executive director of MainStreet Cleveland, praised the selections of all three award recipients — Rowland, as well as the Durkins, whose enthusiasm for downtown she described as contagious.
She also spoke of the legacy left by Taylor.
“Bobby Taylor was a visionary and a forward-thinking leader in business and downtown redevelopment,” Marr commented. “This is most evident by the restoration of the 1911 Fillauer Brothers Building which now houses the Bank of Cleveland’s main office.”
Of the MainStreet Cleveland Award, Marr said it must be a MainStreet Cleveland member, be someone who has had a long-term or recent positive impact on downtown, and who exemplifies the mission statement of MainStreet Cleveland.
“David and Brittany Durkin certainly meet that criteria,” Marr said. “They are a couple who bring the vibrancy of a rehabilitated building, a retail store, a coffee shop and a residence all under one roof.”
Of the award recipients, the MainStreet leader exclaimed, “David and Brittany came to downtown in a big way. Along with two businesses, they host numerous races and events that bring people downtown.”
The Durkins are only the second owner of the historic structure that was built in 1892, Marr cited. After buying it in 2017 and then renovating it, the Durkins reopened the structure last spring.
“They are passionate supporters of downtown revitalization and retail, and are very deserving recipients of the annual MainStreet Cleveland Award,” Marr stated.
The Durkins were humbled by the MainStreet honor.
"David and I were very surprised, and honored, to receive the award from MainStreet Cleveland which is taking action to make downtown strong," said Brittany Durkin. "We are proud to have a business here, and to be a small part of, what is keeping downtown strong."
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